Indonesia nets alleged HASMI militants

Khabar Southeast Asia

Indonesia nets alleged HASMI militants

The terror network has deep Islamist roots – and a training camp in East Java, authorities and experts say.

Anti-terrorism forces in Indonesia have arrested three men in Central Java who allegedly stored explosives for Abu Hanifah, leader of the Sunni Movement for Indonesian Society (HASMI).

The men, identified as Winduro bin Nur Hadi, 28, Feri Susanto, 23, and Bambang Kurmanto, 45, were arrested December 6th and 7th in Sroyo village of Karanganyar Regency.

“They were arrested because they are suspected of storing chemicals and explosive powders for suspect Abu Hanifah,” Agus Rianto, National police spokesman, told reporters in Jakarta on December 7th.

Police reportedly found black powder suspected of being a bomb-making ingredient, three Molotov cocktails, and flashlights in Feri’s house.

The arrests follow counterterrorism operations across Java in late October that netted 11 HASMI members, including Abu Hanifah, as well as homemade bombs, explosive material, ammunition, and bomb-making manuals.

The network was planning attacks on US diplomatic missions in Surabaya and Jakarta, a Jakarta building that houses the offices of mining giant Freeport-McMoRan, and police facilities in Central Java, according to police.

Terrorist training camp in Java

HASMI emerged from Tim Hisbah, the network responsible for recent suicide bombings in Cirebon and Solo, and has roots in the 1950s-era Islamist group Darul Islam, Al Chaidar, a terrorism expert from Malikussaleh University in Aceh, told Khabar Southeast Asia.

“Abu Hanifah restored the Tim Hisbah movement after the death of Sigit Qurdowi, the chief of Tim Hisbah,” Chaidar said.

“He recruited new members who are not Jemaah Islamiyah members,” he said. “Unlike many terrorist groups which link to Jemaah Islamiyah, Hanifah’s network links to Darul Islam, which came to the fore in the 1950s as rebels sought to set up an Islamic state.”

Its main target, according to Chaidar, is the Indonesian government, which is hindering its efforts to establish an Islamic state.

Following the arrests in October, police learned that Abu Hanifah’s network had been conducting paramilitary training in Gunung Wilis, Madiun – unlike other militant groups that set up training camps in conflict-prone areas outside of Java, like Aceh and Poso.

“It is not something new that terrorist network established a paramilitary training camp in Java, because Darul Islam has been doing it for many years, such as in Serang, Banten and also Parangtritis, Yogyakarta,” Noor Huda Ismail, executive director of the International Institute for Peace Building, told Khabar.

Winduro bin Nur Hadi, one of the men arrested on December 6th, is suspected of having trained at Gunung Wilis with Abu Hanifah, National Police spokesman Boy Rafli Amar told reporters during a trip to Lombok, according to Liputan6.

“Hanifah’s network has about 70 members. Up to now, police have arrested about 33 of them,” Chaidar said.

Militants in their midst

Residents of the village where the arrests took place expressed shock.

A witness, Yudi, said Winduro was a friendly person who worked as a garbage collector. “There is nothing wrong with his presence among people. He looks normal and works hard,” Yudi said.

Local resident Samardi Sastro expressed disbelief that local youths from a small village like Sroyo could radicalise.

“It is possible that young children can be radicalised once they leave our village. But as I witness here, there is no radical teaching or suspicious acts around the neighbourhood,” he said.

A former researcher from Gadjah Mada University, Yonaye Odriana, said radicalisation can happen anywhere.

“Youths can be radicalised in many ways, through teaching, learning, and/or by the Internet,” Yonaye told Khabar by phone from her home in Yogyakarta.

“This case is additional evidence that a small area can be a good place to grow radicalism,” she said of the arrests in Karanganyar. “Therefore, a neighbourhood watch must increase its role to monitor the community closely.”

“Meanwhile, a good teaching of peace, tolerance, and harmony based on the Qur’an will help Indonesian youth embrace those values,” she said.

Yenny Herawati in Karanganyar, Central Java contributed to this report

Police unwittingly sold weapons to terrorists: court testimony

Khabar South East Asia

Police unwittingly sold weapons to terrorists: court testimony

Unaware where the guns would end up, the officers supplemented their police salaries by selling warehoused weapons.

Testifying as prosecution witnesses in a terrorism trial this week, two former police officers and a businessman described how in pursuit of profit, they accidentally facilitated the sale of weapons to a paramilitary group in Aceh.

Prosecutors presented the three Monday (December 10th) at the trial of Enjang Sumantri, a suspected member of the Cikampek terrorist network accused of sending weapons to Aceh and raising funds for a terrorist training camp there through robbery.

Testimony of the three witnesses revealed how they unwittingly supported that terror network, a crime for which they were convicted and sentenced in January 2011 to ten years in prison.

Tatang Mulyadi and Abdi Tunggal, former brigadiers in the National Police, were logistics officers tasked with guarding a National Police warehouse in Cipinang, East Jakarta. Ahmad Sutrisno was a businessman involved in weapons maintenance at the Indonesian Police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) Headquarters in Kelapa Dua, Depok, outside Jakarta.

From June 2009 to March 2010, Tatang and Abdi sold 28 weapons, including 11M-16s, 4 AK-47s, 2 M-58s, and some 20,000 bullets, to Sutrisno.

“I sold the weapons simply because I was looking for profit. I did not know that the weapons were sold to a paramilitary group in Aceh. I only became aware of this after I was arrested,” Tatang told the West Jakarta District Court session.

“I knew that Sutrisno was actually a member of the Mobile Brigade’s weaponry warehouse, and he told me that the weapons would be used by the Brigade,” he added.

Tatang told the court that he sold the weapons for Rp 3 million to 10 million ($312 to $1,038) each, depending on the type of weapon. He also sold more than 10,000 rounds of ammunition to Sutrisno for Rp. 1,000 ($.10) each.

“The weapons, which were placed in the warehouse, actually could not be used anymore and they were set to be destroyed. I asked Abdi to fix them, and we shared the profit,” Tatang said.

Abdi told the court that he fixed five of the 28 weapons sold to Sutrisno and got a $415 commission for the work.

Sutrisno testified that he too did not know that the weapons would be used for paramilitary training. He resold them to an officer he believed was still active in the National Police.

“At that time, Muhammad Sofyan Tsauri ordered a number of weapons from me. He told me that he needed the weapons to secure the coal mining area in Kalimantan,” Sutrisno said.

“After I was arrested, I learned that the weapons were used for paramilitary training in Aceh,” he said.

From his business with Sofyan, Sutrisno received approximately Rp 60 million ($6,233).

Sofyan graduated from the Police Academy in Sukabumi in 1998 and was stationed in Depok. In 2002, he was posted to Aceh for seven months.

Dishonourably discharged in June 2009 due to a polygamy issue, he was later linked to the bombing of a police mosque in Cirebon and prosecuted for supplying weapons to a terrorist cell in Aceh. He too, is serving a ten-year prison sentence.

Sutrisno said he wondered at the time why Sofyan, a police officer, would buy weapons from him.

“I actually asked him why as a police officer, he ordered weapons through me. And he said that it is difficult for an ordinary officer to get weapons.”

Burqa escape prompts discussion in Indonesia

Khabar Southeast Asia

Burqa escape prompts discussion in Indonesia

A convicted terrorist’s decision to escape by donning women’s garb is “embarrassing” and disrespectful to Islam, scholars say. It has also led to new screening rules at prisons where militants are incarcerated.

In November, a convicted terrorist escaped from jail by disguising himself as a woman wearing a burqa, forcing police to introduce new security checks.

Roki Aprisdianto, 29, was serving a six-year sentence for bombings in Central Java between December 2009 and January 2011. One of six men imprisoned for the blasts, he is considered the leader of the cell.

According to a police investigation, Roki disguised himself as a woman and walked out of Jakarta Metro Police Headquarters at midday on November 6th, a time when about two dozen women in burqas were visiting detainees incarcerated there.

His action has prompted security personnel to take action in order to prevent similar escapades in the future. Women in burqas who seek to visit terrorist detention centres will now be required to reveal their faces to female guards.

“All of those entering and leaving [the Jakarta Police detention centre], including people in burqas, will be checked,” National Police Inspector General Suhardi Alius announced, according to The Jakarta Globe. Previously, burqa-clad women were only required to surrender their identity cards while visiting prisoners.

Militants bring stigma to innocent women

The burqa escape has prompted heated discussion among women who choose to wear Muslim garb.

Siti Musdah Mulia, 54, an Islamic scholar from the Indonesian Conference on Religion and Peace, agreed that burqa-clad women visiting detainees need to lift their veils for identity and security reasons.

“At the State Islamic University Syarif Hidayatullah (Jakarta), where I am teaching, I don’t allow any of my female students to wear burqas in my class, because I cannot identify whether they are my students or not,” Musdah, who wears a hijab, told Khabar Southeast Asia.

“I will not let them join my class,” she said.

Setianingrum, 38, a resident of Yogyakarta who wears a burqa, disagreed with the inspection, especially if it involves policemen.

“It is not fair for us to be held responsible for this. The escape of the Indonesian terrorist must not impact us,” Setianingrum told Khabar via telephone from in Central Java.

But Baiq Marni Rosniah Kamardi, an Indonesian scholar who previously lived in Egypt and still wears a burqa, said that terrorists have once again hijacked a part of Islam for their own nefarious purposes.

“Terrorists should not use Islam to hurt people and again to escape behind the burqa. This is embarrassing,” Marni, 35, told Khabar via telephone from her home in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara.

“I personally disagree with the Indonesian police’s decision to investigate every woman wearing a burqa. However, since this holy clothing was used by a terrorist to escape, I have no choice but to agree,” she added.

“Not only is our religion being blamed, but sadly now innocent Muslim women as well,” she said.

Changing times in Indonesia

Hijab and burqa have become more popular since the end of the Suharto regime in 1998, which restricted them from being worn in schools and government institutions. Even today, less than 5% of the population wears burqas.

In some parts of the country, however, regional regulations (Peraturan Daerah or Perda) have been established that require conservative dress.

In Aceh and in South Sulawesi, for example, Muslim women are required to cover everything but their faces, palms and feet, and Muslim men must cover themselves from the navel to the knee.